Apple+Intel:Mac 924 Vs Microsoft Gremlin & Linux Mini-van
Apple on Intel is like the original Porsche 924. Either it's a very bad marketing decision or a precursor to a play for a much larger chunk of the mainstream market...
A long established sports car company Porsche, like Apple, use their unique design and reputation for performance and quality to set itself apart from other players in the same market.
In 1976 Porsche released the Porsche 924 as an entry level introduction for new customers to the Porsche brand. The 924 may have been designed by Porsche, but it also had the same engine as models of the AMC Gremlin and Volkswagen Mini-van, and was built by Audi ( at that time a division of Volkswagen ). In comparison to other similarly priced sports cars of the day, the engine failed to deliver the expected performance, even with the addition of a turbo in 1979.
Problems with the early model 924s really damaged the reputation of Porsche and most Porsche enthusiasts shunned it for the earlier model 911 series. Despite the loss of reputation, Porsche stuck with the 924 series for a few years. Sales were not as good as the 911 series and outsourcing the manufacturing turned out to be less cost effective than expected.
Because IBM failed to deliver the next generation of Power CPUs, Apple is need of a new engine. Intel and AMD can provide one, but Apple does not have enough market share for either to manufacture custom CPUs or a new proprietary bus architecture. That leaves moving MacOS/X to the same ia64 or x86 processors which are also used in the Microsoft Gremlin and Linux Mini-van. The latter two OSs are quite capable of providing very comparable desktop experience to MacOS/X well within the next two years.
There is not much Apple can do on the other side of processors bus which is going to deliver enough performance to set it apart from a new Laptop or PC from Dell, Lenovo, HP or any whitebox OEM. Apple style flashy external bodywork is being adopted by those same vendors. The inevitable comparisons will result in damage to the public's perception of Apple's uniqueness.
This leaves Apple with a choice. Either continue to remain the sole supplier of hardware for MacOS/X and loose a large chunk of the desktop market share OR choose to directly compete with Microsoft and let Dell, Lenovo and HP sell Apple designed/approved "built for MacOS/X" laptops and PCs. The OEMs would love to have Apple and Microsoft competing to sell on the OEMs own hardware.
In my opinion if Apple does not choose the latter option, then it's only because of very bad decisions by Apple's management or Sherman Act violating non-compete agreements with Microsoft.